Myanmar Signs MoU With UN Agencies on Repatriation of Rohingya Refugees

Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State, Myanmar

Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State, Myanmar. Photo: DFID - UK Department for International Development.

Myanmar signed an agreement with two United Nations agencies on Wednesday to assist with the repatriation of some of the nearly 700,000 Rohingya Muslims who fled a violent military crackdown in northern Rakhine state and are now living in overcrowded displacement camps in Bangladesh.

The memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the U.N.’s development (UNDP) and refugee (UNHCR) agencies will help with the voluntary return and reintegration of displaced Rohingya, assessments of conditions in Rakhine state for those who are contemplating returns, and support programs that benefit all communities in the multiethnic state.

The statement referred to “displaced persons” and not the Rohingya by name because Myanmar does not include the minority Muslim group as one of the country’s official ethnic groups under the 1982 Citizenship Law.

“The signing of the MoU is expected to enhance the work already undertaken by the government of Myanmar since last year for the voluntary, safe, and dignified repatriation of the displaced persons,” said a statement issued by State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi’s office.

“It is hoped that with the U.N.’s involvement, the repatriation process will hasten,” it said.

Myanmar and Bangladesh signed an agreement for the voluntary return of Rohingya refugees last November, but so far only several dozen refugees returned illegally on their own in May.

The U.N. and rights groups have warned that the stateless Rohingya, who are considered illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, will continue to be discriminated against after they return to Myanmar and be denied citizenship and access to basic services in the Buddhist-majority country.

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Reported by Nay Rein Kyaw, Win Ko Ko Latt, and Thinn Thiri for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

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